Friday, January 6, 2012

Oh, the Humanity!

 Hindenburg Memorial
Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, March 2004
This photograph is from, literally, the oldest roll of film I ever shot. I acquired this roll, which had been stored in a cool basement since bought new by an old photographer friend of mine. I shot this photo of the Hindenburg Memorial on a roll of Kodak Panatomic-X, the fine-grained film that Kodak stopped production of in 1989. 
The Panatomic-X film we film photographers all know was rated 32 ASA. This particular roll was rated 12 ASA back in the day, and had an expiry date of April 1939. That meant -- film usually given a shelf life of three years -- this roll was probably manufactured sometime in 1936. Which means the film I finally exposed in 2004 -- 67 years after the Hindenburg disaster of May 6, 1937 -- actually predated the crash landing by at least one year.
I developed this in Kodak D-76. I used that developer as I hadn't the foggiest notion how to develop the ancient roll of Panatomic-X. Fortunately there was a data sheet enclosed in the film's box, and D-76 was one of the recommended developers still in existence, and as I happened to have some D-76, it came out pretty well. The negatives were rather dark, as the film was fogged after almost seven decades of storage. You can see little black spots on the film, which resulted from heat exposure.